Millennials fuelling modern-day subletting

11 months ago
Millennials fuelling modern-day subletting

Subletting is a recurring subject in the world of rental property. For those who are not familiar with the term,subletting is when the original tenant named on the legal agreement moves out and rents the entire property to someone else. Alternatively, the original tenant stays in the property and rents out a room or multiple rooms. Unless the landlord has agreed to subletting, the act will be a breach of the tenancy agreement and constitutes grounds for eviction.

The topic of subletting is very much back on our radar as we know current conditions can lead to an increase in the activity. The prospect of extra income may prove hard to resist for tenants affected by the cost-of-living crisis, while the lack of properties to rent can push some renters to accept properties advertised through unconventional channels, such as social media or Gumtree.

New research by Direct Line, released at the end of July, shed light on the subject. When questioning 2,000 tenants, it found 1 in 8 had let out all or part of their rented property – a figure that jumped to 2 in 8 among tenants aged between 18 and 34. Worryingly, almost 50% of those who did sublet a rented property did not tell their landlord, while just over 75% didn’t review their tenancy agreement to establish whether subletting was allowed.

Modern-day subletting is partly being driven by the Airbnb movement, with online platforms making it incredibly easy for tenants to advertise their property to people under their landlord’s radar. Landlords who think subletting simply couldn’t happen in their property should note that Direct Line found 22% of tenants taking part in the survey would consider or are already signed up to a holiday let platform in order to sublet some or all of the property they live in.

Short/holiday subletting is a fairly new phenomenon and it comes with new tell-tale signs. These can include:

  • A key safe being installed at the property
  • Different people frequently arriving and leaving with suitcases
  • Lots of backpacker-style rucksacks
  • Excessive UberEats, Deliveroo or JustEat deliveries
  • Locks fitted to each bedroom door
  • Tea/coffee making equipment in each bedroom
  • A rise in anti-social behaviour, such as late night music
  • Online requests for plant and pet sitters, where there are no plants or pets in evidence

These newer subletting signs are in addition to more traditional red flags, which include:

  • The name on postal letters not matching with the ID that tenants provide
  • Overflowing recycling boxes
  • Increased gas, electricity and water usage in ‘bills included’ rentals
  • Social media messages about the property from people not listed on the tenancy agreement
  • Sofas made up as beds
  • More toothbrushes in the bathroom than people listed on the tenancy agreement
  • Increased signs of wear and tear

The continuing threat of subletting is something we take extremely seriously. Our vigilance starts at the referencing stage, when we contact a prospective tenant’s previous landlord and ask whether they have ever engaged in subletting. We also meticulously check supplied documents for instances of ID fraud or intentional deception. Subsequently, we’ll create a tenancy agreement that implicitly prohibits subletting so the landlord is fully protected should there be an issue.

We also schedule mid-term inspections, which are designed specifically to detect subletting. Where possible, we will organise to meet with the named tenant during the inspection and verify their ID while present – an action that can quickly uncover whether the person who lets us into the property is actually named on the tenancy agreement.

In some cases, we will also speak with the neighbours to establish patterns of behaviour and unusual activity. Finally, we can cross reference holiday/short let platforms to establish whether a property has been advertised during the agreement period.

If you would like a professional set of eyes and ears to monitor the usage and condition of your buy-to-let, please contact us today.

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